The Denver Nuggets have a much different look heading into the 2013-2014 season. They have lost Andre Iguodala via free agency and the team chose not to give George Karl a contract extension. Simply put, the Nuggets have a lot to overcome.
Last season, Karl was able to lead Denver to a 57-win season despite have very little star power. That’s what made the team’s decision to let him go so surprising, and point guard Andre Miller is expecting Denver to take a step back in Karl’s absence.
During a recent interview with NBA TV that Ball Don’t Lie shared with us, Miller was asked if the possibility of winning 57 games again next season still exists. The 14-year veteran was brutally honest.
“You know that ain’t gonna happen again,” Miller said. “I’d like to say we’re gonna win 57 games and have a better home record than last year, but that was a great year for us. I wish we could do it again and we want to build from there, but it’s gonna be tough. We’ve got some new guys and some new veterans coming in, and the good thing is we’ve got guys who are willing to work.”
He’s probably right. Karl was able to do a lot with very little over the past few seasons, and there is no guarantee new head coach Brian Shaw will be able to do the same with less. Having said that, the younger guys on the team might not benefit from hearing that they have no chance of winning 57 games.
At age 37, Miller is expected to be a leader. Part of leading is being realistic and tempering expectations, but he probably shouldn’t be counting the team out before the season even begins — whether it’s true or not.
The Denver Nuggets made a shocking move on Thursday when they fired head coach George Karl. The 62-year old coach had been with the team since 2005. What really made the move puzzling is that Karl was named the NBA’s Coach of the Year for the 2012-2013 season back in May.
Karl took the Nuggets to the postseason every year in his eight seasons with the team, though they did lose in the first round of the playoffs the past four seasons. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the issue had to do with Karl’s contract situation more than the team’s play on the court.
Karl was entering the last season of his deal with Denver, which is a situation that has made him uncomfortable throughout his career. Rather than coaching the team under a one-year contract, Karl was likely going to pursue an extension during the offseason. Apparently the Nuggets were not comfortable giving him one and decided it was time to part ways.
At least two players who are currently on the Denver roster, Kenneth Faried and Ty Lawson, were left scratching their heads after the move.
The Oklahoma City Thunder were locked into an incredibly close game with the Denver Nuggets on Sunday night, but that didn’t stop Russell Westbrook from taking some time during the fourth quarter to harass the Nuggets mascot.
The mascot, who is known as Rocky, was attempting a couple of backwards over-the-head shots from half court when Westbrook decided that the shots were not going to fall on his watch. According to Eye on Basketball, one of Rocky’s attempts would have even won the crowd a free snack if he hit it. Westbrook jumped up and goaltended it anyway.
Apparently Westbrook just felt that he could do whatever he wanted and no one could stop him. That seemed to be true throughout his 36-point night in which he hit a clutch three-pointer to help send the game to overtime, so why not carry it into commercial breaks as well? Denver won the game in overtime, but thanks to Westbrook their fans missed out on the potential of free queso.
By now you’ve surely heard about the tragedy in Aurora, Colo., where a gunman opened fire on moviegoers early Friday during a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises.” Reports have the death toll at 12 with many more left wounded.
The Denver Nuggets’ summer league team paid tribute to those victims by wearing black headbands for their game against the Blazers in Las Vegas on Friday, as pictured above. Prior to the contest, a moment of silence was also held.
The suspect law enforcement has in custody has been identified as 24-year-old James Holmes.
Maybe it’s just me, but I kind of like these backpacks. Children’s-themed backpacks seem to have emerged as one of the favorite forms of hazing across sports. The latest victims — if you want to call them that — are the Denver Nuggets rookies. As you can see from the photos above and below, the Nuggets forced their rookies to carry around Dora the Explorer and Hello Kitty backpacks this week. It could be much worse, right?
The Nuggets lost to the Jazz at home on Sunday, 106-96. Denver head coach George Karl has a theory as to why. When a team loses in the NBA the excuses usually range from a lack of focus to turning the ball over too much. Karl, however, believes that beating a certain team from South Beach on Friday had a lot to do with Sunday’s loss.
“I probably blame it on our NBA cool,” he said according to the Denver Post. “We thought we were cool after kicking Miami’s butt, and we got embarrassed. The NBA game does it quite frequently. If you think you’re better than you are, or think you’re cooler than you are and you don’t think you have to put in the hard work to win games, you get embarrassed. We got embarrassed.”
He may have a point. Everyone wants to beat the Heat — especially a young team like Denver that is looking to silence the critics and prove they can win games without Carmelo Anthony. That being said, I’m not sure how embarrassing a loss in game 13 of an NBA season can be. It’s a long year, and I doubt anyone thinks the Nuggets are pathetic for dropping an early-season game to the Jazz.
If I beat a team with a guy who says stuff like this and does stuff like this, I’d probably take a couple days off too.
Chest bump to I Am a GM for sharing the story with us
Tim Tebow the basketball player? Why not? The guy seems to do everything else right. When the Broncos went on their mid-season winning streak, it appeared as though Tebowmania had reached its peak. After Denver lost its last three regular-season games and completely backed into the playoffs, many expected the Steelers to hand them a beating and Tebowmania to fizzle out until further notice. We now realize how wrong those people were.
After the Nuggets lost to the Hornets on Monday night, Denver G.M. Masai Ujiri said he wished his team had Tebow to help them win.
“I wish we had Tebow tonight,” Ujiri said according to Chris Tomassan of FoxSportsFlorida.com. “He would have saved us tonight.”
Ujiri’s comments came in the wake of the Denver crowd erupting while the Nuggets were trailing by 18 points late in the game. The home fans became ecstatic because the Nuggets’ mascot, Rocky, sauntered onto the court wearing a Tebow jersey. These days — especially in Denver — that’s all it takes.
With late-night talk show hosts recreating Tebow moments using peanuts and mayors losing bets that force them to Tebow, I think we can officially say Tebowmania has reached a new level. If the Broncos are able to secure themselves a spot in the AFC Championship game by beating the Patriots in Foxboro on Saturday night, the universe could very well explode.
Last season, the Nuggets lost Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks. The move left the team without star power, but Denver still finished the season with an impressive 50-win total. The Nuggets lost to the Thunder in the first round of the playoffs, but head coach George Karl remains excited about this year’s team despite its lack of a true superstar.
“I think, I hope, as I am preaching to the team is the Denver Nuggets is going to be out being a team” Karl said in an interview with KKFN in Denver that Sports Radio Interviews shared with us. “It has nothing to do about individuality and basically screw all the guys out there that think you gotta have a superstar to win a championship. I’m just not into the hype. … I’m excited because if Oklahoma City is the darlings of the NBA and we are not that far from them.”
Denver recently inked Nene Hilario to a five-year, $67 million deal, so he is obviously someone who is being paid like a superstar that they think they can build a contender around. With a mix of young players like Ty Lawson and veterans like Danilo Gallinari, the Nuggets should be far from a punching bag in the Western Conference.
Teams with superstars generally succeed in the NBA — especially in a seven-game playoff series. That being said, a superstar can emerge over the course of the season. If Chris Paul went to the Lakers the Western Conference picture would be a bit clearer, but instead he was traded to the Clippers which should make them a contender as well. Karl is a good enough coach to keep the Nuggets in the hunt and lead them to the playoffs once again.
Mikhail Prokhorov could be the world’s biggest Carmelo Anthony fan. We all know the Nets need to make some sort of huge splash in order to become a contender, but is it worth wagering their entire future for one player? Anthony may be one of the NBA’s best players, but who could blame the Nuggets for trading him away with what New Jersey is offering?
In order for the trade to be finalized Anthony must agree on the three-year, $65 million extension the Nets are offering. Reports have surfaced stating that Anthony and Prokhorov are scheduled to meet during All-Star Weekend, but Carmelo said there is “no meeting at all” and talk of one is “news to (him).” Of course, it would be foolish to rule out the Knicks regardless of how far along the talks are between New Jersey and Denver.
If the deal goes through, here is a look at what each team would get:
Nets get: Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams, Melvin Ely, and Renaldo Balkman
Nuggets get: Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, Troy Murphy, Ben Uzoh, and four first-round picks.
Man, that’s a ton of first round picks. The Nuggets would lose two of their best players but they would also have an infinite amount of resources to use toward rebuilding. Two first round picks every season for four years can yield plenty of talent. Favors may not have worked out as planned just yet, but he was a third overall pick for a reason. Harris is known to score points in bunches. Anthony is the definition of a franchise player, but I’m just not sure any player is worth that type of king’s ransom — especially one who takes his hat off to himself and rocks shades during interviews like a clown.
What’s up with wrestling screwing up NBA playoff dates? Three years ago, in like the best season ever for the Clippers, the Clips had just won Game 6 against the Suns to tie their series at 3-3. They were hot but had to wait like three days in between games because the WWE had an event — Judgment Day — held in Phoenix that weekend. So with the three full days off between games, the Suns won the decisive Game 7. This year it’s the same story: the WWE is booked for Monday Night Raw at the Pepsi Center in Denver on the 21st, the same day Game 4 is scheduled to occur between the Lakers and Nuggets. WWE master Vince McMahon used the screwup as an opportunity to rip the Nuggets:
“Even though the Denver Nuggets had a strong team this year and were projected to make the playoffs, obviously Nuggets and Pepsi Center owner Stan Kroenke did not have enough faith in his own team to hold the May 25 date for a potential playoff game.”
Ouch. I think they can forget about bringing the WWE to the Pepsi Center for any future events after that bomb. To make the Nuggets look even worse, contracts were sent to the WWE to finalize the deal as recently as April 15th. That’s pretty poor on Denver’s behalf. So how does McMahon plan to handle all this? He wants a steal cage match against Stan Kroenke to settle things:
Of course he’s making a spectacle of things — it’s the WWE. But I’ll give McMahon this much — he’s right.